Director: Ron Howard
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Bruhl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Marie Lara
Plot: In the 1976 Formula 1, rival racers, James Hunt (Hemsworth) and Nikki Lauda (Bruhl) clash, their rivalries coming to an exciting, and dangerous, head.
There are some biopics out there where you can’t help but question their purpose. Sure, famous figures deserve a little study, but are they really film-worthy? The good thing with Rush is that this story totally needs a movie of its own and that is what makes Rush such an exciting piece of cinema. After watching this movie, I went home and verified if the events were true to the story and they totally were. The events in this movie connect together so perfectly as if they were made for a feature film.
This movie gets a lot of attention, because Ron Howard has brought it out at a time, when the rivalry between these two great sporting figures is still fresh in everyone’s mind. People who were brought up to the backdrop of Nikki Lauda and James Hunt’s bitter conflict will remember how their competitive streak pretty much put Formula 1 on the map. At the same time, as someone who doesn’t particularly enjoy Formula 1, this film was still enjoyable to me. The actual rules were explained well, despite being told in a flash montage sequence. Howard made sure he focused on elements other than racing, so everyone was in the loop. If racing isn’t your thing, class it as a metaphor for the rivalry and just go for the intense characters of James Hunt and Nikki Lauda.
I liked that both of these characters took it in turns to play the villains of this movie, making it a fair portrayal of the story. Nikki Lauda is introduced as an ‘asshole’, constantly putting down his team and insulting his superiors. He is focused on winning to such an extent, he becomes this ugly force of reckoning. However, while James Hunt could have become the stereotypical good guy role, Howard also makes his cocky edge come across as a negative feature. When Lauda is the underdog of the film, Hunt turns into that alpha male bully that we all hated at school. Both characters are made both exciting, yet at the same time despicable, when it comes to their fierce competition. You hate them at the right moments and celebrate them in others.
Everyone puts in a performance, possibly egged on by OSCAR time just around the corner. Near the end, Howard shows us the actual James Hunt and Nikki Lauda and you realise just how great the casting actually was. Hemsworth is a spitting image of Hunt and Bruhl has figured out Lauda’s characteristics excellently. They are the right mix of historical figures and, at the same time, Hollywood heroes. They both understand the need to make a true representation of these characters, yet at the same time make an exciting movie with a deep rivalry. The women in their lives are also good at what they do. Alexandra Marie Lara is effective here, working well as the woman in love with the world’s most unromantic man. However, their story blossoms without taking away from the racing theme. A little disappointment was the fact Olivia Wilde doesn’t feature much (not the film’s fault: it is a true story, after all). Her English accent was so good that if I didn’t know who she was, I would have assumed she was a Brit. However, if anyone is going to get a nod for the OSCAR here, it’s Howard himself. The cinematography here is incredible, stylish and exciting. It keeps the film running, even when it slows down slightly.
I also noticed how Lauda and Hunt became a metaphor for the Formula 1 of today. James Hunt is in it for the passion and the thrill. He celebrates the moment and is fun to watch. He is everything we want from Formula 1. However, it is so dangerous (as you will see during the film), that the sport had to get more scientific and precise, as Lauda was trying to insist upon. It is a lot safer now, but it is regrettably not the sport it once was. I do not find racing exciting anymore, yet understand why it had to evolve to survive. It is another element that proves how diverse these two characters are and how smart Ron Howard is with this film.
Final Verdict: A true story that needed its own film. Exciting, tense and moving. One of the best sporting movies in a long time.